Tips on barefoot running

November 3, 2015

Barefoot running has become increasingly popular in the past few years, but it is not just a fad. There are significant benefits to barefoot running, if the correct precautions and techniques are used.

Tips on barefoot running

Benefits of barefoot running

  • When people run with shoes on, they typically land on their heels. While shoes provide some protection from the impact, landing on your heels still causes a jolt of force to go directly up your body, putting pressure on your ankles, knees, and hips. Barefoot running encourages runners to instead land on the front or mid-section of their feet. This allows the feet to act as shock absorbers, which can help prevent chronic pain and also increase speed.
  • Many barefoot runners find that being in direct contact with the ground gives them a better sense of balance, as it provides them with a more rapid and precise knowledge of slight changes in the terrain.
  • Running without shoes also stretches out the Achilles tendons, foot ligaments, and calf muscles, which can help prevent common injuries associated with those body parts.

Techniques and precautions for new barefoot runners

  • Some runners will find themselves naturally altering the way they run as soon as they do so without shoes. Others will need to focus on changing their gait to ensure that they are landing on either the middle or balls of their feet.
  • When beginning barefoot running, runners are often excited to try out the new technique they've been hearing about. However, it is important to start slowly. Running barefoot changes the emphasis on which muscles are most used in the feet and legs. Barefoot beginners will often experience sore calf and foot muscles after their first few attempts.
  • To avoid excessive strain, it is best to begin by running barefoot for about half the length of your usual workout and rest for an extra day or two between runs until you are fully accustomed to running without shoes. Gradually beginning to run barefoot will also allow you to build up calluses rather than getting blisters.
  • Barefoot running is not for everyone, but many people who try it find that it is a healthier and more enjoyable way to run. The benefits of running barefoot can be numerous, but newcomers should understand how to run barefoot and remember to not rush into it as they begin.
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